Why Does Eugene Kittridge Return For Mission Impossible 7?

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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - DEAD RECKONING PART ONE, (aka MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 7), character poster, Henry Czerny, 2023.  Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

The Mission: Impossible films have always had a fluid Relationship with their own history. Many characters will play central roles in one film and then never return to the franchise again. And tracking the history of the IMF — the Impossible Mission Force — that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) are a part of is more than a little complicated. But the newest film in the franchise, “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” aka “Mission: Impossible 7,” features the return of a character from the very first film. In the new movie, Henry Czerny reprises his role as Eugene Kittridge from 1996’s “Mission: Impossible.”

Who Is Eugene Kittridge in “Mission: Impossible”?

In the first “Mission: Impossible,” Kittridge is the director of the IMF. In that movie, Kittridge is on the hunt for a mole in the IMF, and he thinks it’s Ethan. Kittridge even has Ethan’s family arrested to try to draw him out of hiding. Ethan eventually proves his innocence and Kittridge reinstates him, but he feels at least a little uneasy about what happened (a common theme in the films).

Who Is Eugene Kittridge in “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One”?

Kittridge doesn’t appear in any other Mission: Impossible film until he reemerges in “Dead Reckoning Part One.” In the film, a malicious AI known as “the Entity” is making its way through the world, and every country wants to get its hands on it. Kittridge sends Ethan on a mission to get a key that unlocks something about the Entity. But he is not publicly head of the IMF anymore; Kittridge is the CIA director.

In “Dead Reckoning Part One,” Kittridge is even more morally ambiguous than he is in his other outing, even veering into secondary villain territory. The United States wants the Entity and its powers not to improve the world or save its people, but so it can control the future and the coming wars for resources.

Who Is the Head of the IMF in “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One”?

Kittridge is not officially referred to as the head of the IMF (usually referred to as the secretary in other films) in “Dead Reckoning Part One,” but he seems to have taken on a de facto version of the role. Ethan tells Grace (Hayley Atwell) to go to him in order to be admitted into the IMF, and Ethan’s mission at the start of the film comes directly from Kittridge. In 2018’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” Alec Baldwin‘s Alan Hunley is a former CIA director turned IMF secretary, but he is killed by John Lark (Henry Cavill) in the film. It seems in the intervening years, no replacement secretary was picked (it’s unclear if Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt, who appears in the fourth and fifth films, is still alive and active in the IMF at this point).

But interestingly, in one of the first scenes of “Dead Reckoning Part One,” the head of the NSA appears and has no knowledge of the IMF at all. That doesn’t really track with what was established about it in other films; the fifth one literally features a congressional hearing about the IMF. It seems there’s at least a little retconning of the place of the IMF in US government going on. It’s also unclear how many people are still in the IMF at this point. Ethan, Luther, and Benji have access to the organization’s incredible technology (like the famous face masks), but they seem to be essentially on their own in the film.

“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” is in theaters now.



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